SpeakOut is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. SpeakOut articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.

Last night, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit that challenged the constitutionality of the federal Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA), without addressing the central First Amendment question in the case. The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) brought the case on behalf of five long-time animal rights activists who allege that the 2006 law violates their right to free speech. The judge ruled that the men and women suing the government did not have standing to bring the case and therefor the case could not go forward. The judge's ruling was based on a narrow interpretation of the AETA as criminalizing only property destruction and threats, despite the law's broad prohibition on causing an animal enterprise any loss of property, which is generally understood to include the loss of profit. Attorneys say they will appeal the dismissal.

Mar 22

Bury CISPA for Good

By Josh Levy, freepress | Report

This week Internet advocacy groups — including the Free Press Action Fund — are uniting to protest CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act.

As we wrote last month when the bill was introduced, this is actually CISPA's second time around (it stalled last year in Congress). The "new" CISPA — we call it the zombie bill — is actually identical to the old CISPA. It would protect companies like Facebook and Microsoft from legal liability when they hand over your sensitive online data to the federal government, without any regard for your privacy.

Mar 22

Here's Why I'm Headed to Denver

By Eli Pariser, freepress | Press Release

There are just a few slots left for the National Conference for Media Reform. (You can get registered here.)

Here's why I'm going, along with thousands of other activists, media makers, techies and journalists:

Back in 2001, I created a website calling for a multilateral approach to fighting terrorism in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. That site merged with and a few years later I became MoveOn's executive director. At MoveOn, we used the Internet to help millions of people become online and offline activists.

While the two major parties plot strategy for the next battle in the federal debt-reduction war, another war rages among economists over the question, "Is debt really the federal government's biggest problem?" Some insist that unless Washington cuts spending substantially to reduce the debt quickly, we are headed for disaster. Others insist with equal fervor that growth is the number one priority: Aggressive pro-growth policies will reduce the debt in the long run with far less pain.

If the pro-growth economists could gain public support they would give liberal Democrats a powerful weapon to resist the Republican's budget-slashing ax. But the pro-growth faction makes little headway in the public arena because the political wind is blowing so strongly against it. Why should the wind blow that way?

The banks use something called MERS in order to destroy local land records, avoid taxes, and foreclose on our homes. The truth is slowly coming out about it and people are fighting back.

My brother just emailed me a link from that made my stomach turn. Then again, animal cruelty, like all torture, always does, but the abuses in this story are especially egregious. I want those responsible for these atrocities– and those abetting them– to be exposed and for the entire article to be more widely read, so I hope you’ll share:

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — An undercover video that showedCalifornia cows struggling to stand as they were prodded to slaughter by forklifts led to the largest meat recall in U.S. history. In Vermont, a video of veal calves skinned alive and tossed like sacks of potatoes ended with the plant’s closureand criminal convictions.

Mar 21

On Black Women Domestic Workers

By Lewis R Gordon, The LRG Blog | Op-Ed

My presentation last week on the great intellectual and educator Anna Julia Cooper for Women's History Month stimulated some wonderful responses. Among them was a letter from Katherine van Wormer, a sociologist who grew up in New Orleans and now teaches at the University of Northern Iowa. She reminded me of the importance of remembering those whose stories aren't often told, such as the many black domestic workers during the period of Jim Crow.

David Walter Jackson, II, Charletta Sudduth, and Katherine van Wormer wrote a moving book: The Maid Narratives: Black Domestics and White Families in the Jim Crow South (Louisiana State University Press, 2012). This book tells a story with which many of us are familiar and one that continues to be misrepresented in so many ways, as the movie 2011 movie The Help (which I found unbearable) attests. Van Wormer and her co-authors offer a corrective to such misrepresentations.

Mar 21

David Brooks Jumps the Shark

By Dan Riker, SpeakOut | News Analysis

David Brooks jumped the shark in his March 18 New York Times column, when he attacked the only budget proposed in Congress this year that would rapidly improve the economy, restore full employment, but reduce the ratio of the national debt to the GDP, without cuts in Medicare or Social Security. Remarkably, the "Back to Work Budget" of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, also would restore sequester cuts in the defense budget and provide for a more rational reduction in military spending.

Brooks attacked the $2.1 trillion in stimulus spending in the budget as unnecessary because the economy is "finally beginning to take off," and argued that the raising of revenue from increasing the top marginal tax rates, closing loopholes, taxing capital gains like ordinary income, and imposing a tax on some of Wall Street's risky financial transactions will unfairly punish the wealthy and discourage the mythical "job creators."

Today, upon the news that Maryland’s House of Delegates joined the State Senate in passing SB276, the bill to end capital punishment in the state, leaders from Witness to Innocence issued the following statements.

Kirk Bloodsworth, Advocacy Director of Witness to Innocence, remarked: 

“I am profoundly grateful to the representatives of the Maryland House of Delegates for their historic action today. Support for the end of capital punishment by both houses of the Maryland General Assembly marks an emotional milestone in my personal journey toward healing from the trauma I suffered here.

Missed in the mainstream media coverage of the release of the revised Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) documents on March 14 was the alarming role the peripheral tunnels could play in increased fracking in California.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the controversial, environmentally destructive process of injecting millions of gallons of water, sand and toxic chemicals underground at high pressure in order to release and extract oil or gas, according to Food and Water Watch.

The oil industry, represented by Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association and the former chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called "marine protected areas" in Southern California, is now pushing for increasing fracking for oil and natural gas in shale deposits in Kern County and coastal areas.